A business owner who was left without work due to the coronavirus pandemic has spent lockdown working on a new venture he hopes will soon take off.

Paul Henson, of Henson Civil Engineering Ltd, had been working on behalf of VolkerStevin as a sub agent on local flood defence schemes for the Environment Agency, but had to be let go when the outbreak struck.

Left without work, the 53-year-old, of Wigton, decided to invest the extra time he had to expand his services.

During lockdown he’s completed a course to become a licensed commercial drone pilot and has spent time promoting his services in aerial surveying and photography.

“I’m hoping it will take off - pardon the pun. It’s a new thing these days and a lot of companies are using aerial photography,” said Paul.

“It set off as a hobby. When drones first came out I got myself a little drone and it just went from there. I thought there was something in this and I could turn it into part of something else that I do as a business.

“I looked further into it and found out you could do the courses and got myself a decent drone as well.”

Paul has got an NQE pilot licence and has obtained his PFCO (Permission For Commercial Operations) licence from the Civil Aviation Authority in order to undertake this work, as well as all the correct insurances he needs in place to get his drone in the air.

His new services could be required by the emergency services to help with search and rescue operations, for land, river and roof surveying, or for television documentaries and news.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s something I like doing and it’s new. I’ve done a lot of research and they say by 2025 they will be looking for pilots everywhere, it’s going to get that big in the future. It’s got a lot of potential,” he said.

“It’s just getting the work and putting the word out but it’s early days.

“With my past history with main contractors and an already growing industry, I am very confident that this exiting new venture will take off nicely and the sky’s the limit.”

Paul has run his limited company Henson Civil Engineering for a number of years but he hopes this adaptation will add an extra dimension to his already successful business.

He says there a number of benefits of using a drone for surveying and inspection, including the ability to access difficult to reach or dangerous locations and how cost-effective it can be. It also means site work can be completed in a shorter timeframe.

Paul’s company specialises in the management of construction sites and has provided roles for various companies. He’s worked for VolkerStevin, working alongside the Environment Agency and United Utilities, for more than 17 years.